Investigations are taking place into potentially “re-scoping” how the Southport Park and Ride service works.
The service is currently operated by Southport firm Comfy Bus and allows motorists to ‘park and ride’ all day from just £2 per car.
Drivers park at the Esplanade Car Park before getting aboard a bus which travels along Victoria Way, onto Duke Street, then Lord Street, Leicester Street, the Promenade and back to the car park.
The service runs from the Esplanade every 10 minutes, through the town centre and on to the Southport Eco Centre.
Current times are:
Mon to Sat 7:30am – 6:30pm
Sunday 10am – 6.30pm
Councillors are being asked to extend the current contract with Cumfy Bus by an additional seven months up to the end of September next year, at the same rate plus inflation.
The extra time will allow councillors and council officers time on how to “further consider the design of the service, prior to committing to a longer-term contract.”
Discussions have previously been held about potentially altering the route of the park and ride service to include areas such as Ocean Plaza retail park and elsewhere, about the frequency of buses, the times they operate and more.
A Sefton Council report states: “The contract for the provision of a Park & Ride Bus Service in Southport was due to terminate on the 31st July 2023.
“In March 2023 a report was brought to a meeting of the Cabinet seeking approval to extend the service for 6 months and also to gain permission to enter into a Public Contract Regulations compliant procurement process to be carried out in order to secure a replacement contract from the extended termination date for a period of five years. The evaluation criteria was to be agreed with the Cabinet Member Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services.
“The reason for the extension request was to allow Officers and the Cabinet Member time to further consider the design of the service, prior to committing to a longer-term contract. Those discussions are on-going with Members and the Deputy Leader of the Council.
“Officers have discussed the process for retendering the contract with the Council’s Procurement Service.
“There are currently no further extension options available to explore that were allowed for in the contract. However, after consultation with the procurement team it was agreed that it would be pointless to re-tender the service as it currently operates, knowing that the service was in the process of potentially being re-scoped.
“If the Council were to go out to tender on a short term contract basis, there would potentially be no appetite from the service providers to operate and invest in running a service that was going to be re-scoped within the first few months of operation.
“Therefore, the best way forward is to extend the current provision for a further 7 months.
“The current Contractor has indicated a willingness to continue to deliver the contract in line with the current contract terms and an inflationary price increase.
“This would provide the Council with improved price certainty for the delivery of the current service, at a time of rapidly increasing costs, and thereby assist effective budget management over the next 12 months.
“In accordance with the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules, officers have regularly monitored contract performance and are satisfied that the contractor has performed well throughout the period of contract.
“Further extending the Contract would allow Officers, Cabinet Member and the Deputy Leader to continue to consider the design of the service, prior to committing to a longer-term contract, and enable re-alignment of the new contract commencement date, to the end of the peak visitor season.
“Officers are satisfied that extending the Contract for seven months would continue to offer best value to the Council over this period, when considering the combination of cost, quality and efficiency that the contract, current contractor, and proposed approach provides.
“It therefore proposed to extend the current contract for a period of seven months from 1st February 2024.”